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Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2017-02-24T20:14:45.607-05:00


Support 'Survival Sex' A Short film by Ukachi Arinze


On Go Fund Me:
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The Art Science Prize


The ArtScience Prize is a catalyst for student learning through passionate pursuit of innovative art and design ideas at the cutting edge of science.
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2015-16 ArtScience Prize from ArtScience Prize on Vimeo.

Dynamic vs Static Metrics: Attributes for an African Measure of Competitiveness - A Biashara Competitiveness Index


Niti Bhan makes the case for a "Biashara Competitiveness Index":
For analysts everywhere, the challenge of considering each economy in its own right seems to be far too much trouble, and so they tend towards sweeping generalizations which lump all metrics under one label – “Africa”. Some find even that far too exhausting and aggregate Africa along with Europe and the Middle East.

These regional groupings might be fine for executive Vice Presidents responsible for regional sales in a globe spanning multinational but for anyone seeking to assess and evaluate the emerging opportunities sparking interest in the continent, these aggregate metrics only serve to obfuscate and confuse the issue.

Static vs Dynamic

What distinguishes the majority of the emerging African economies from the more established ones is the prevalence of informal business activities, in addition to agriculture.
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Professionalizing the Management of Igbo Enterprises


Martin Ike-Muonso writes:
Since independence, Lagos metropolitan city has positioned itself as a land discharging far greater entrepreneurial opportunities than other lands in the country. Abuja and Rivers State, perhaps rank distant seconds because of the presence of government at the centre and oil resource management enterprises respectively. These ‘Lagos’ opportunities continue to swell because the entrepreneurial class in this commercial capital know how to sustain that leadership. On the average, it seems that unlike the entrepreneurs in other equally important commercial centres such as Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba, Kano and so on, their businesses on average are better corporately and professionally packaged. Skilfully packaging an enterprise opens it up to many prospects for long-term survival and growth. And when this occurs at a large scale as it is in places like Lagos and Portharcourt, you can only imagine the impact on the economy of that State and region. Therefore, it can be argued that professionalized management and professionalization of entrepreneurship is a key factor accounting for much of the differences in the financial fortunes, longevity, sustainability and outlook of most businesses in the South-east and South-south Nigeria in comparison to their counterparts in Lagos...[continue reading]

Gloria Emeagwali's tribute to the Late Wangari Maathai


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Gloria Emeagwali's tribute to the Late Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner, 2004. Gloria was interviewed by Professor Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome.

Can Africa grow its manufacturing sector & create jobs?


Over at the World Bank Francois Steenkamp and Christopher Rooney write:
Over the past decade and a half, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced rapid economic growth at an average annual rate of 5.5%. But since 2008, the share of manufacturing in GDP across the continent has stagnated at around 10%. This calls into question as to whether African economies have undergone structural transformation – the reallocation of economic activity across broad sectors -- which is considered vital for sustained economic growth in the long-run.

It is often argued that the process of manufacturing-led structural transformation results in employment growth characterized by the creation of good, high-productivity, good-paying jobs. The kind of jobs that can break the cycle of poverty and address inequality.

So if most African countries haven’t experienced manufacturing-led structural transformation, what is it that has constrained the manufacturing sector over this relatively robust period of economic growth?
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Meet the Africa Centre Artists In Residency Laureates


Just announced:
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The process of reviewing and selecting African artists to award our residencies, is an invaluable opportunity to travel through our continent’s beautifully diverse artistic landscape.

We are delighted to share a little insight into the each of the seven artists who were recently awarded residencies at our partner spaces all over the world.

Mina Nasr | Visual Arts | Egypt

Qudus Onikeku | Performing Arts | Nigeria

Catherine Nakawesa | Performing Arts | Uganda

Hasan Essop | Visual Arts | South Africa

Beza Lemma | Film| Ethiopia

Gladys Kalichini | Visual Arts | Zambia

James Webb | Visual Arts | South Africa
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Yestermorrow Design/Build School


Similar schools are needed across Africa:
A photo posted by Yestermorrow (@yestermorrow) on
Yestermorrow Design/Build School teaches over 100 hands-on workshops a year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Our intensive, hands-on courses are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Being An African Architect in Africa


Mariam Kamara writes:
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Living and working in West Africa roughly half the year, I have learned many lessons about practicing remotely and practicing in a "developing" country. For the past three years I have been going back and forth as projects demand, overseeing construction and touching base with clients. In case the articles in this blog haven't been clear enough, we are very much committed to re-thinking the way architecture is viewed and conceptualized in the African urban context. Because many of our current cities are a product of colonization, they are often ill-fitted to our local context. The materials are usually expensive (concrete and steel) and quite frankly inappropriate for many countries (do you have any idea how hot a cement house gets on one of Niger's 45degrees Celsius days???). More than that, our standard reflex has been to copy what is done in the West as examples of what contemporary architecture should be. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with Western architecture obviously. It is fantastic! But does it work for us? Can't we create something equally fantastic that is affordable, adapted and, well, "us"?
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John Akomfrah Winner Of The Artes Mundi 7 Prize


From Contemporary and:
allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">UK, contemporary-artist John Akomfrah has been chosen from a shortlist of 6 of the world’s most important artists to win the UK’s leading prize for international contemporary art, Artes Mundi 7.

OpenStreetMap Without Servers


From Digital Democracy:
At Digital Democracy we are working with indigenous communities in the Amazon to create maps of their own neighbourhoods, their territory: farms, fishing sites and hunting trails essential to feeding the family; old village sites where grandparents lie buried; sacred spaces for reflection and healing. Armed with maps they themselves create, our partners are fighting to protect their ancestral rainforest home and hold oil, mining and logging companies accountable for contamination and deforestation of their territory.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a free, editable map of the world created by volunteers. Easy to learn tools make it simple for anybody to map their house, their street, their neighbourhood, and collaborate with thousands of other users around the world to create a global map that rivals Google Maps for accuracy and detail...[more]

Competitive Governance, Seasteading and Free Private Cities


A post over at Let a Thousand Nations Bloom:
If you are interested in economics and/or political thought, you may have come across the following three terms:
  • Competitive Governance 

The purpose of this post is to explain in a clear and concise manner the economic and political thought behind each of these terms. Of particular importance is to understand how these terms, respectively, the ideas behind them relate to each other.
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Dallas Mussa's Kibera Radio Show


In Kenya via Al Jazeera:
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A 1,500-Mile Expedition up the Okavango


From National Geographic:
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Refugee Artisan Project


A UNCHR project:

Merging cultural heritage with self-reliance

Wherever refugees go, they carry with them the traditions and culture of their homelands, including the skills, knowledge, and craftsmanship that can unite and define a people.

Artisans living as refugees are interested in sustaining these artistic traditions, especially if doing so could also provide a source of income, an opportunity for social connection, psychosocial nourishment, and even local integration.

Refugee artisans could hold the keys to self-reliance in their own talented hands: The artisan sector is the second largest employer in the developing world. Between 2002 and 2012, the artisan economy doubled to more than $32 billion a year...[more]

Corruption, Wealth Creation and the Nigerian Elite


J J Omojuwa writing in African Liberty:
Nigeria’s elite must do better. We need to prioritise giving, give intentionally and strategically for the purpose of expanding opportunities and creating wealth. There are two main types of giving in a certain sense. There are those that give in such a way that the receiver continues to depend on them and then there are those that give for the sole purpose of empowering the giver. We need to do more of the latter. Even with a governance system that works – ours still doesn’t – we’d still need to do a lot more than depend on government to fix our poverty challenge. It is a massive problem. One of the reasons certain countries continue to be prosperous over centuries is not only because of their system of governance but because private citizens committed to using their wealth for the purpose of development; endowing universities for the education of a certain group of people, empowering businesses via soft loans or equity contribution, covering several other gaps left by the government. No system has ever thrived solely because its system of government worked. Ultimately, we need change to happen from top to bottom and bottom to top for it to be wholesome and enduring. Ours is a double whammy challenge because whether top to bottom or bottom to top, we haven’t even started at all.
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The People who shaped Islamic Civilisation


Over at the Economist:
Coverage of violence and Islam often go hand in hand. So it comes as a relief to be reminded that historically, culturally and intellectually, Islam is less a nihilistic creed than a global civilisation. A new book by Chase Robinson, which includes 30 pen-portraits of significant figures in Islamic history, is an elegant digest of the many colourful, creative and technologically innovative manifestations that the Prophet Muhammad inspired from his seventh-century oases in the Arabian peninsula...[more]

South Sudan's New Generation of Pop Stars


Okay Africa highlights a number South Sudanese artists:
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How Vietnam became Southeast Asia’s top performer


From the Asian Correspondent:
Vietnam’s remarkable economic progress looks set to continue in the coming years, despite a regional slowdown which has affected other states in Southeast Asia.

Its increasingly diversified and resilient economy has grown at a healthy rate – of above 6 percent – in each of the last two years, and looks well-placed to maintain its position as Southeast Asia’s top performer in 2017.

Whilst Vietnam’s economy grew at 6.21 percent last year, other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore endured slower growth rates as a result of a slowdown in global trade and declining growth in China. Not only was Vietnam the top-performer in the region, but it ranked second behind India – the only country which achieved growth of over 7 percent in 2016 – in the list of fastest-growing economies worldwide...[more]

Portrait of a lone farmer - A Documentary


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"> Portrait of a lone farmer TRAILER from Jide Tom Akinleminu on Vimeo.
Share "Portrait of a lone farmer is a feature documentary about a Danish-Nigerian family torn apart by geography. When the filmmaker Jide, for the first time in five years, visits his father’s poultry farm in Nigeria, we see through his camera the unfolding of a story about family, love, and legacy. It is a quiet and stunning portrait of a broken family trying to heal, one in which the drama occurs in their mutual understanding, and never takes up more space than the impressions that meet Jide’s camera.."

The Computational Engine of Economic Development


César A. Hidalgo writes:
For decades, economists have been demanding non-aggregate theories of economic growth and development. Perhaps Wassily Leontief said it first when he emphasized that a true understanding of the economy needs to look “under the hood” of economic aggregates.[1] But the voice of Leontief, although no longer present, is still prevalent in his writings and that of others. Contemporaries of Leontief, such as Simon Kuznets, and more recent economists and scholars, such as Robert Lucas (1988),[2] Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee (2005) — and, of course, yours truly (Hausmann and Hidalgo 2011) — have also called for an understanding of the process of economic growth and development that avoids aggregation. But why?
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Building Relevant Skills With "Generation Next"


Existing initiatives and others like this new one in the US need to be replicated across Africa:
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As skilled carpenters, plumbers, and electricians retire, there aren’t enough trained craftsmen to take their place. So we’re rallying scholarship support to help young men and women embark on a gratifying, hands-on career
More here

Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations


Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations a book by Terry Anderson:
"Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think, and act for myself." – Chief Joseph, 1879

Most American Indian reservations are islands of poverty in a sea of wealth, but they do not have to remain that way. To extract themselves from poverty, Native Americans will have to build on their rich cultural history including familiarity with markets and integrate themselves into modern economies by creating institutions that reward productivity and entrepreneurship and that establish tribal governments that are capable of providing a stable rule of law.

The chapters in this volume document the involvement of indigenous people in market economies long before European contact, provide evidence on how the wealth of Indian Nations has been held hostage to bureaucratic red tape, and explains how their wealth can be unlocked through self-determination and sovereignty...[more]

How do you build Africa’s newest tech ecosystem when the government shuts the internet down? #Cameroon


Quartz reports on the situation in english speaking Cameroon.

Natural Hair Rules Catwalk


Hair & Identity:
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